The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

working through our first year

mcs's picture

working through our first year

This past week was the first anniversary of our bakery's opening.  Of course this wouldn't have been possible without the help of  a few people. Here they are in order of appearance:

This is Mom about to sample a bear claw or two fresh out of the oven.  She's come out a couple of times to help us with both special events and our busy farmers' market season.  We must be doing something right if she keeps coming back.


Here's my "76 year-old migrant worker" and I posing for a picture.  John came up from Spokane, Washington last fall to help me for a week.  We both got a lot out of it and his visit was the inspiration for the 'bakery internship' idea.


Thomas came here from the Chicago area at the beginning of this summer to help out during a very busy 10 days.  Here he is posing with an impromptu sourdough loaf he made with rye starter, flax seed, and other goodies.


This is Sharon a.k.a. "the wife" setting up for our first farmers' market this year back in April.  When things get really busy, she's the one making the Apfelstrudels, doing the stretch-and-folding, and keeping me in line.

Although this is technically a 'one man operation'  we all know that there are people along the way who make any business plan successful.  Here they are.

Thanks everyone for making this past year a success.  I'll keep you Fresh Loafians posted on new developments over here.



ehanner's picture

The first year is the hardest. Hope all is well in Kalispell.


mcs's picture

Thanks to you I've got a lot of rye junkies here.  I've even got bakers from other bakeries buying the rye proclaiming it 'the best rye around'.  Good one, huh?


Floydm's picture

Congrats, Mark.

weavershouse's picture

I'm happy for you and glad your first year went well. You and your "family" work hard, I'm sure, and deserve great success.


Thank you for all that you've shared with us.


Susan's picture

I don't know anyone who deserves bread success more than you. 

Your kindness and willingness to share are legendary here at TFL.  Please do keep us informed. 

Susan from San Diego

AnnieT's picture

So happy to join the chorus of well wishers, Mark. Here's to continued success and happiness in your bakery. Wish I was a few years younger to come and lend a hand, A

Rosalie's picture

I'm glad you took the time to check in with us on your first anniversary.  With your talent and hard work, there was no question about your success.  Best rye around?  No doubt.  Congratulations.


hansjoakim's picture

Thank you for sharing photos and stories from your first year! I wish I can zip over there and try your breads and pastries sometime in the future. I'm here if you feel like opening a Euro branch, you know...

You got a cool mom, Mark :)

I was wondering about the range of baked goods you offer. Could you perhaps shed some light on how you put the range together in the first place, and does the popularity of the various loaves and pastry items match your initial predictions? Are there any loaves that have been phased out or are new variations on the way in?

mcs's picture

This may be hard to read, but it'll tell you what the range is for our farmers' markets.  I'll decipher it a little bit.  You have two worksheets, one is for the first farmers' market of the season in April, the second one is for this past Saturday.
I had no idea what to expect on the first market, so we baked 3 types of bread:
6 - RW (rustic white)
6- MG (multigrain)
6- Rye
below that, we had
24- mini stickybuns
36 HCB (hot cross buns)
then in descending order: croissants, Apfelstrudel, baguettes, Sals (mini baguettes), cheese danish, ham and cheese croissants (made like a standard pain au chocolat)
Designated on the right of some of them is the 'number left' or those we didn't sell


On the right is the worksheet from this past Saturday.  Some of the abbreviations you'll recognize with additional items (in decending order) like Olive (Kalamata bread), PSB (Portuguese Sweet Bread rolls - 9 dozen, or 21 pounds), Choc (similar to pain au chocolat,but shaped differently), regular stickybuns, palmiers, bear claws, cherry and raspberry turnovers.  We sold everything and note the time on some items when they sold out (market started at 9:00).
If you saw the worksheets in between, you'd see a progression that makes it very obvious as to the popularity of items over time.  Of course since it's such a small sample size, the data can be skewed by 'big spenders', but that can be noted also. 
When something doesn't sell like I think it should, I might adjust the size or change the shape (pastries) so I can change the price too.  Some items I deliberately under-price to get people interested, and some items I make small that way a parent won't feel bad spending $.50 on a 'mini-palmier' for their 5 year old.  I've had lots of variations on the sweet stuff in this manner. 
As for bread, I've had basically the same choices all along, but sometimes I vary the quantity to change it up a bit.  That said, I am introducing the hippie bread this week for people who like the heavier types of bread.  Since the material cost of that bread is high, I'll start with just 6 or 8, then add more if people like it.
Hope that answers your questions.


audra36274's picture

  you have accomplished. Good luck in the coming years with the bakery as well as your family. Rock on friend.


mcs's picture

I appreciate the compliments and kind words.  Now I think it's either time to get back to work or go to sleep.  Probably back to work. 


AprilSky's picture

Hi, Mark:

Congratulations on the anniversary of your bakery! I haven't done anything about baking in the last two weeks. The typhoon damaged the mountain areas very seriously. Thousands of people suffered losing their families and homes. My family are OK, but i've been feeling sorry for the people and the disaster that might take years to recover. If I show up again with some breads that could mean I feel better ^^



mcs's picture

I'm sorry to hear about that, and I hope you can do what is necessary to help people there recover.